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Instructions for Critical Comparison Essay
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Purpose

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is for you to write a critical comparison essay based on the literary themes and concepts we’ve discussed in this course and apply it to our course texts.

 

General Instructions: 

 

This assignment is the first part of a two part assignment in which you’ll be given the opportunity to work on an essay, get my feedback, and then write a final draft. Instructions on the Final Draft Essay (25%) will be in a separate assignment.

 

Please choose one of the following essay topics. Be sure you choose carefully as this will be the topic you’ll be exploring for the rest of the term.

 

Remember that the focus of this essay is developing your own argument (as articulated in a thesis statement). That argument needs to directly respond to the question in your chosen topic and be supported with specific textual evidence/examples.

 

The essays must:

· demonstrate an understanding of literary terminology we have studied in the modules of this course;

· demonstrate a thorough and accurate understanding of course texts (i.e. must use and analyze specific quotes/examples from the course texts); and

· display college-level writing techniques. 

 

 

Essay Topics:

 

1. Children's Literature Tackling Difficult Issues

 

In her article, “How dark is too dark in children’s books?” Rebecca Westcott (2014) argues that:

Children live in families; they are surrounded by adults with all their adult problems. They wake up every morning in homes where there are everyday crises and challenges. They hear their friends talking and they watch the news on TV. Life happens and they are a part of that. Their books need to reflect what they hear, what they see. They need to recognise their situations in a book.

But like adults, children don't just want to read about themselves. Books that address challenging issues can offer opportunities to explore, to ask of yourself: "what would I do?" …books provide children with the chance to empathise. They can play out a role in a safe environment. They can learn about how other people think.

Using specific examples from the text, compare and contrast how Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson use specific literary techniques to deal with difficult subject matters, such as death, racism, and divorce. You may use the article as part of your research, as well as things we’ve included in the class.

 

 

2. Diversity in Children's Literature

 

In our reading this semester, we’ve read a couple of  articles on the importance of diversity in children’s literature and how the industry is responding. Return to Week 6 and review those four articles and consider how these ideas apply to two of the following: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel, or And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. You may refer to the articles in your paper.

 

3. The Function of Antagonists

 

All of the books we have studied have some kind of antagonist (whether that antagonist is a character or characters, or some kind of social force). Compare and contrast one of the antagonists in:

 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

 

Or

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

 

In your essay, analyze what these antagonists bring to their respective stories. Address one of the following in your response, looking for connections (similarities and differences) between the three texts you have chosen. Be sure to use specific examples from the texts.

 

· How does the antagonist help to reveal the protagonist’s character?

· How does the antagonist advance the plot?

· What value does the antagonist bring to the story? 

 

Only secondary research allowed for this essay topic is the textbook.

 

4. Point of View and Character

 

According to Rebecca Lukens et. al, point of view helps us see the story from a particular perspective: “In literature, interpreting a story is often a matter of point of view—whose thoughts we know, whose view of the action we follow. Increasingly, stories not only reveal multiple points of view, but also include the voices of people traditionally unheard in children’s literature.”

 

Choose two from the following texts and determine how the author uses point of view to show a character’s perspective of the story. Is it one that is traditionally heard?

 

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